|Carson - Andrews Mill|
The following documents were compiled and submitted by Patsy Andrews.
The history of the property as a place of milling operations begins in 1767 when a tract of 400 acres "on both sides Robersons Creek joining John Neals Land and including a Mill Shoal" was surveyed and granted to Thomas Welch. See Deed.
The will of Thomas Welch, signed on 21 Aug 1793, named his son John Welch to receive the mill property as described in the will as "a part of a tract including the mill hole and certain boundary now laid off." See Will.
In 1800-1801 Mr Welch's widow and sons sold the property to John Cansler of Lincoln County who operated both a gristmill and a sawmill here in the fork of Roberson and Hunting creeks. Both appear on a map of his holding in the Speculation Lands Collection in the D H Ramsey Library, University of North Carolina at Asheville. While there are but few references to the milling operations carried on here by John Welch, a map survives that shows the location of the gristmill and sawmill operated by John Cansler. His Roberson Creek holding was described as 962 acres. It is dated "May 8th" but no year is given. The critical information is provides is the location of the separate grist and sawmills. The two were located beside each other and on the north side of Roberson Creek, about midway between the point where Heavener's Creek empties into Robertson Creek to the east and the junction of Hunting Creek with Roberson Creek to the west. The mills were location a few hundred feet generally north/northwest and across the creek from the Carson-Andrews Mill. The map also shows the road crossing Roberson Creek below the mills and below the junction of Huntin Creek and Roberson Creek.
Also located in the Special Collections are the survey notes.
In 1825 John cansler deeded to James Withrow Carson, his son-in-law, the land on which he, James, and his wife, Catherine Cansler Carson, lived. This was the first of four deeds by which just over 1000 acres of Cansler family lands, including the then existing mills, came into the ownership of James Withrow Carson. After the death of John Cansler, James Withrow Carson acquired the interests of his wife's siblings in the holdings and became the sole owner.
The Carson-Andrews mill was erected ca. 1830-1835 by James Withrow Carson. It is a two-story-with attic heavy timber frame gristmill. Standing on a high mortared stone foundation and covered with a side-gable sheet metal roof, the mill is the oldest known frame gristmill in North Carolina west of the Yadkin River and second only to Rowan County's brick Kerr Mill of 1822 in this region of the state.
James Withrow Carson died on 24 Oct 1846, leaving no will. It was not until 1853 that a court-appointed commission appraised his real property and divided 730 acres of it in lots among nine of his ten children and his wife. A dower interest in the Carson lands was given to Catherine Cansler Carson with that dower "containing one hundred and ninety acres including the Mill".
Catherine Carson survived her husband by twenty years, dying on 31 May 1867, and it is during her ownership and operation of the mill that the first records document the extent of the milling operations here. Mrs Carson's mill is shown to be a "merchant mill". Merchant mills were commercial operations with much larger production of meal and flour than gristmills that served just local communities. During the year of 1850, the Carson mill was the leading mill in Rutherford County with a capital investment of $3,200. During the year ending 1 Jun 1850, 4,000 bushels of corn and 4,000 bushels of wheat were ground to produce meal and flour, respectively. She reported one employee who was paid $15 per month in wages. The 1850 Census indicates that this employee was probably her nephew, William Cansler DePriest, who gave his occupation in 1850 as "miller" and was then living close by, only two households removed from Mrs Carson.
Catherine Carson died on 31 May 1867 and her real property passed in undivided one-tenth shares to each of her ten surviving children. This property is described in a subsequent series of deeds as "the Dowry of the late Mrs Catherine Carson". Interests in this land were conveyed incrementally within the family and to others outside the Carson family. The operation of the Carson mill during this time was a complicated business. The possibility exists that it was during this period of evolving ownership and operation of the mill that the house long known as the miller's house was built either for a member of the Carson family or purposefully as a residence of a hired miller. The simple finish of the house suggests that it was built ca. 1870 to ca. 1890. The 1880 Schedule of Industry listed the mill as Carson Mill Company, six one-tenth undivided interest in the property had been sold out of the family.
A series of five real estate transactions in 1878 placed the majority ownership of the mill with James Milton Andrews and Andrew B Long Jr. Then on 24 Nov 1881, Andrew B Long Jr and his wife Sarah sold their four interests to James Milton Andrews. James Milton Andrews then owned eight of the ten interests in the land. His son Ben F W Andrews owned the other two interests.
From 1881 until his death in 1909 James Milton Andrews was the principal owner of the Carson Mill, the Carson family residence, and the grounds of some 190 acres; however, Ben F W Andrews took up the management of the mill, at least in the early 1890s with the expectation that the property would eventually be his. (At the death of James Milton Andrews he bequeathed Ben F W Andrews "all my interest in the tract of land known as the Carson Mill tract lying on Robertsons Creek it being eight interest, the other two interest belonging to him...")
Ben added adjoining parcels to the Roberson Creek holding in 1891 and 1892. In addition to the gristmill, Ben operated a cotton gin. Existing records begin in 1896 and are chiefly for the purchase of equipment and the sale of cotton.
On 15 Apr 1897 Ben Andrews purchased the eighteen-foot overshot steel water wheel from the Hanover Foundry and Machine Company for $675. As part of the purchase agreement the Hanover Company also provided a plan for the mortared stone well mount in which it is positioned. This wheel provided water-driven power for the operation of the sawmill, which stood close by, to the northeast and whose site was obliterated by the relocation of Andrews Mill Road in 1954, to the nearby cotton gin, and the Carson-Andrews Mill through the use of steel gears.
Ben Andrews was living on the property here in May 1900 when he married Minnie Jane Stewart. Ben and Minnie were the parents of two children: Lucy Jean Andrews and James Milton Andrews. Both were born in the now lost one-story nineteenth-century frame house which stood immediately east/southeast of the Ben F W Andrews House, and portions of which probably dated to the Carson period. Ben F W Andrews and his family occupied the house from at least the early 1890s until 1908 when the Colonial Revival-style house was completed.
In the summer of 1900 Ben purchased a new gin from the Continental Gin Company of Birmingham, Alabama, and was buying related equipment from the company into 1902. It was about this time that he also began building his Colonial Revival house.
During 1938 and 1939, The Forest City Daily Courier featured a series of articles written by R K Hollifield entitled "Memories and Events of a Half Century". In two of these articles he talked abou the Carson-Andrews Mill
22 Dec 1938
Carson's Mill was located on Roberson's Creek and is now know as Andrews' Mill. There were two dams across the creek above this mill, one about three hundred yards above the mill and the other one about two hundred fett from the mill house. The mill race ran around the foot of the hill from the upper dam to the mill house. There was a flood gate at the lower end of the race that could be raised to turn the water on the wheel to run the mill. The water wheel was an overshot wheel, about twenty feet in diameter and about four feet in width. They ground both wheat and corn at this mill.
I remember some of the men who operated this mill. The first miller I recall was Thomas Carson, then Sam Callaham, Joe Wallace, and Jim Watson. There were others who I cannot recall just now.
The lower dam furnished water to run a saw mill. The saw was known as a sash saw, about six feet long and ran up and down, and would saw from five hundred to one thousand feet of lumber per day. The saw would saw within about four inches of the end of the log and there was a block on the side of the carriage that would automatically knock off the lever to the flood gate and cut off the water and stop the saw. The carriage was pushed back by hand power, the log was moved over the thickness of a plank and mill started again.
"Unle" Joe Weast was the sawer, and when the people would haul logs to the mill he would always stop sawing and help them unload the logs. When they had an unusually good log he would usually make the remark, "I jingo, that's a good log." This mill was a great place for boys to go in swimming and for fishing while awaiting their "turn" to be ground.
One time two colored men, Cab Martin and Jake Elliott, went to this mill and while the miller was grinding their corn they went off somewhere and got some whiskey and took almost too much of it. on the way home Jake let his sack of meal fall off his mule so he got down and put the bag of meal on his shoulder, led his mule up to a stump, mounted the mule and went on home riding the mule and carrying the bag of meal on his shoulder.
13 Apr 1939
We go back now to the old Piney Mountain road and cross Roberson's Creek just below Carson's old mill. This road has been changed and now crosses the creek on a bridge just above the mill. This is a noted old mill.
There has been many thousand bushels of grain ground at this place. There they ground both wheat and corn. Mr William (Big Bill) Carson once tended this mill and I have heard it said that he carried six bushels of wheat up three flights of stairs to the top story of the building at one load. The building was four stories high. This mill was a great spot for picnics. People of the entire country around would come with well-filled baskets and everybody would eat till they were filled. I recall at one picnic here that two young men got into a scrap. One of them was a negro and it came very near being a serious affair as others were just ready to get into it. But some level-headed older men got it stopped without anyone being hurt.
It is about two miles from this old mill to Washburn's Cross Roads.
The public roads were worked by free labor at this time so when I became eighteen years of age I had to do road work, so I had to help work this road from Carson's mill to Washburn's Cross roads. Where there were mudholes or ruts in the road we would throw some pine brush in the hole or rut and throw a little dirt on it.
This road crossed a little hill that was called the Indian Hill, where, it was said, Indians were buried. Very often the road workers would dig in this mound, or grave, but they never found anything in the grove. You could hear people say there could be ghosts seen there at night but I never stayed around at night to see if that was true.
Washburn's Cross Roads is where Mr Rubin Washburn had a store. There has been a store there ever since I can remember, and there was one there a number of years before I was born. I have lived to see six different store buildings at this cross roads. The first one I remember was a log building right in front of the brick home that Nollie Washburn built and lived in. Mr Washburn next built a little framed store building on the other side of the road just below the house he lived in. Then a few years later he built a two story frame building on the southwest side of the Cross Roads and the studding in the building was hewn out of little pine poles. Then later when his son Nollie took over the store he built a brick building on the west side of the road just in front of the present store building. Then a number of years after this Nollie built the building that his son, E N Washburn now occupies. But before he died he built another building on the southeast corner of the cross roads. This building is now being used by E N Washburn as a funeral home.
In Feb 1913 Ben Andrews made improvements to the Mill with the purchase of a "Midget Marvel Flour Mill" from the Anglo-American Mill Company of Owensboro, Kentucky, for $1,750. It was probably during these improvements to the mill that the cupola was added to the top of the mill.
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